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Customer Team Member - a way to winning together

November 13, 2008 by Przemysław Bielicki

Used by permission.
Copyright by Paweł Niewiadomski

One of the core XP practices is having a Customer Team Member. It means that development teams have access to the newest information from the customer's side and they know about all changes in the requirements very quickly. Having on-site customer (or customer proxy for commercial products with lots of potential customers) ensures that requests change informally, the process becomes flexible, and saves the cost of formal overhead.

In this post I would like to take another look at this practice. I would like to share with you my thoughts why having a Customer Team Member can help the development team win together with their customer. And I would like to take a "social" view on this practice.

Taking customer risks fable

September 19, 2008 by Artem Marchenko

Disclaimer: All events and situations are imaginary. Any coincidence with reality is accidental.

Picture courtesy of law_keven@Flickr

Once upon a time there was a web development shop. One day a customer from a mobile phone and laptop company called Nokapple came to the shop asking to build a web site for selling music. The project was supposed to change the whole market and appealed to the company much, the team never worked on that big project, but had relevant experience and agreed.

The development started actively and everything was going more or less smoothly. The customer's requirements did change during the course of the project, but the team managed to cope with that and was still targeting the original release date. Customer was so happy to see the evolving project that two months before the release date he decided to change his business plan and start targeting not only US market, but to go internationally.

Oh My God, They Fixed the Bug!

July 1, 2008 by JurgenAppelo

Gearstick A year ago, when I bought my new car, I noticed that the knob on the gear stick was loose. I was able to rotate it 360 degrees. I assumed that it was not supposed to be delivered that way, but I didn't care. In fact, while driving my car for a year, I got used to this bug and it turned out that I actually liked it. The knob rotated with the movement of my hand while shifting gears, and I kind of thought that was cool. And I liked fumbling with it while waiting for traffic lights to turn green. (Which, in my country, amounts to a lot of fumbling.)

Well, last week I turned in my car for its first scheduled maintenance. And after I got it back, while driving home happily in my serviced car, I suddenly noticed something was wrong... I was feeling resistance to my fumbling. I was unable to rotate the knob on the gear stick. It appeared that the service guy had fastened it! A jolt of anger shot through my system.

Oh my god, they killed the bug. (You bastards!)

Investing in customers

April 22, 2008 by Artem Marchenko

Braun WK210 Aqua Express
Many Finnish companies have a tradition of periodically selling the old stuff to its employees on the internal auctions. If you are lucky, you can get a decent computer, printer or fax for a couple of euros. Several years ago the company I was working for (CIM Wireless) has been bought by a bigger one. We were going to move to the new company premises and therefore had a particularly big auction where they were selling pretty much everything older, than a year. At that time I needed a new kettle and got one right from the company kitchen for as little as five or ten euros. I didn't put much thinking in, I just needed a new kettle - it didn't really matter which one.

When quality matters

It happened, however, that such a commodity as an electric kettle could be of so high quality that it makes you notice it. We didn't examine the device or measure its performance, but we couldn't miss such features as boiling water fast or ability to turn off automatically, when was empty. It might sound amazing, but we were actually surprised by the fact that it just worked very well. Plus it looked nice. We even recommended this model to a couple of friends - something you rarely do about kettles.

Scrum customer management: not participating customer

May 15, 2007 by Artem

Sometimes there are customers who "generally" agree to using Scrum as a software development process, but fail to fulfill the product owner role. What do you as a team do then?

Being evil is expensive

April 5, 2006 by Artem Marchenko

Once upon a time in a continent far-far away (from Europe) there was a mighty spreadsheet software vendor called Lotus Development Corporation. Their product Lotus 1-2-3 dominated the niche with its almost 100% market share. There was a neglectibly small competitor product named Microsoft Excel. The Microsoft's product better met user needs, integrated well with the word processor and in general was a good product. Unfortunately the Lotus'es overwhelming user base left not a lot of chances for any competitor whatever good he was.

The Microsoft worked real hard to lower the enry barrier. They mailed demo packages by post, built the Lotus-to-Excel convertors, even created a special version of the Windows OS, that could be started without the installation and could run the MS Excel trial only - pretty much everything, that could eliminate the trialing efforts. And the most cunning trick of the Microsoft generals was to introduce the really good Excel-to-Lotus convertor. Yes, you heard it right, Microsoft released the tool that customers could use to switch back to their old good Lotus 1-2-3 whenever they decide that Excel isn't worth any further trials.

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